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Urban public transit, September 2021

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Released: 2021-11-30

Highlights

In September, urban transit recorded its highest ridership since March 2020 as schools resumed in-class learning and more businesses reopened amid higher vaccination rates. Transit ridership recovered almost half (47.7%) of its pre-pandemic level from September 2019.

Ridership hits milestone

There were 78.2 million passenger trips made on Canada's urban transit networks in September, an increase of 24.3%, or 15.3 million trips, from September 2020. With schools back in session along with the final phased re-openings of businesses and proof-of-vaccination requirements, employment returned to its pre-pandemic level according to the Labour Force Survey for September.

Ridership grew sharply as many students attended in-person classes, more people returned to their workplaces and residents headed back to restaurants and entertainment venues. While ridership recovered to almost half (47.7%) of pre-pandemic levels for the first time since the pandemic, there were about 85.8 million fewer passengers compared with September 2019.

On a monthly basis, as school resumes and workers return from summer vacations, transit ridership typically increases in September, by 10% to 14% on average. September 2021 saw a larger increase of 23.3%, or 14.8 million trips, from August. The increase was widespread across the country, with over half (51.4%) of the monthly growth reported by agencies in Western Canada, while those operating in Quebec and Ontario contributed 44.6%.

Financial situation continues to improve

In September, total operating revenues (excluding subsidies) reached $184.2 million—an increase of 28.6%, or $41.0 million, from September 2020 and the highest level observed since March 2020. Despite this growth, transit agencies' operating revenues remained one-half (49.9%) of the pre-pandemic level from September 2019.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Urban public transit operating revenue and passenger trips, monthly, 2017 to 2021
Urban public transit operating revenue and passenger trips, monthly, 2017 to 2021

  Note to readers

Data for the most recent quarter are subject to revision. The data in this release are not seasonally adjusted.

This survey collects data on operating revenue (excluding subsidies) and the number of passenger trips from a panel of urban transit companies that represents at least 75% of revenues in each province and territory. Note that the panel is adjusted annually to maintain the 75% coverage and could differ slightly from what it was in the same month a year earlier.

Data prior to January 2017 can be found in table 23-10-0078-01.

The Transportation Data and Information Hub, a web portal developed jointly by Statistics Canada and Transport Canada, provides Canadians with online access to comprehensive statistics and measures on the country's transportation sector.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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